As Pennsylvania’s voter ID law went under the microscope in Harrisburg on the first day of hearings on a court challenge to the legislation, protesters held a silent march and rally in Philadelphia.
Sentiments ran high. Petite senior Anne Carroll traveled in from New Jersey to the protest outside City Hall, though her state doesn’t even have such a law.”I’m furious. That’s about all I can [say]. I’m furious,” Carroll said.However, protesters and even organizers are having trouble keeping track of the details of Pennsylvania’s ID rules.
Carroll and state Sen. Shirley Kitchen cited lack of a birth certificate, a potential obstacle that had become a focus of opposition.
“They go after seniors saying, ‘You have to have a birth certificate.’ Saying you have to have a birth certificate. Well some people don’t have it,” said Kitchen, D-Philadelphia.
But that’s no longer a requirement. Pennsylvania will start offering a different state ID in August just for voting that will only require applicants to provide their date of birth, Social Security number and two proofs of residency.
Some say the state has bungled its voter ID educational campaign.
At the same time, reaction tends to be visceral on the issue, suggested Zack Stalberg, in a debate that has gotten less nuanced as it gets more political.
Stalberg heads the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group.
“The more confusion or fear there is now, and especially on Election Day, the less people will turn out to vote or the fewer people will try to get valid ID,” he said Wednesday. “So we want this to be as commonly and accurately discussed as possible.”At the rally in downtown Philadelphia, Michael Williams held a sign with side-by-side pictures of Gov. Tom Corbett and the late Alabama Gov. George Wallace. “Voter ID, 2012,” it said. “Poll tax, 1964.”
“We have a lot of guys that were homeless in our facility that didn’t have their driver’s license or didn’t have their identification,” said Williams, a peer outreach worker with an addiction treatment program.He has helped them through the process of obtaining a drivers license or state ID. Asked what he thought about the rule changes to try to accommodate those voters, he said it’s still difficult to keep up as the law evolves.